View Full Version : Top 5

Trail Yeti
10-10-2002, 16:14
In another thread, I happened to mention that Shaw's was one of the top 5 hostels I stayed at. Jeff asked me what my other 4 were.
So here is my PERSONAL favorite hostels along the trail. This does not include hotels in town that were really great (some of them are really nice to hikers), or places that I did not stay.
So come on past thru-hikers, lets hear your top 5, and the reasons for it!
1. Kincora Hostel, TN- Bob and Pat Peoples are really great. Its inexpensive, free shuttles, they really care about hikers and its .1 mile off the trail! You can also do trail maintenance there W/Bob.
2. Shaw's Boarding House, Monson, ME- great food, really friendly, and Mr Shaw cracks me up!!
3. Hikers Welcome Hostel, Glencliff, NH- home of Moonbow manufacturing. Big John and Pack Rat make you feel welcome, have cokes, gatorades and a small resupply for sale. You can sleep outside in one of their tents (try out a Moonbow or a Hennessey Hammock) or upstairs.
4. Tellico Gap Hikers Hostel, Tellico Gap NC- If you've got the food and can bypass Franklin then stop here! Ron the Waffle King is an experienced hiker (PCT, AT, CDT) and is super friendly. A little pricey but includes AYCE spaghetti dinner & waffle breakfast. Lots of movies to watch, internet, and Ron will help you shake out your gear to drop weight.
5. The Blueberry Patch, Hiawassee GA- The Poteets are super friendly and work hard to make your stay happy. Laundry is included, and so is an absolutely fabulous breakfast!
I know there are others out there where people had a great stay that I didn't mention. I either didn't stay there or they are farther down the list...maybe I should have said top 10?

The Weasel
10-10-2002, 22:36
Yeti's list contains several that I've heard are as good as indicated. My hike so far has only gotten to Trout Dale, so my "Top 5" is a bit truncated. Here goes:

(1) The Blueberry Patch. They really do knock themselves out. Clean, friendly, great breakfast, fuel on site at fair prices by the ounce, glad to drive you into town for resupply, allow you to work for your keep sometimes instead of paying.

(2) Kincora, by reputation. But Laurel Creek, while "commercial", is a class act (where I stayed), with a small outfitting store, bunkhouse, free FULL kitchen with satellite TV (free), guest rooms if you want some privacy, and will do shuttles at VERY reasonable prices. I'd make it a tie, although they are totally different in style.

(3) The Place, in Damascus. No real frills, and the kitchen now only has a nuker and a fridge. But lots of room, no hassles (as long as you clean up and don't have alcohol), right in town, CHEAP ($4 donation requested), nice lounge, ALWAYS a great bunch of people there, including trail bikers. 2 good showers, included, with towels (someone always has left shampoo, but you need your own soap), but with only 3 toilets, sometimes it can be a wait if the place is full. Town library is about 50 feet away with free internet.

(4) Elmers, in Hot Springs. Don't ask why. Just do it. Fight for it. But in a sense of peace. Elmers is where Karma goes to take a rest. Don't try to understand until you're there. YOU ARE INSANE IF YOU DO NOT SIGN UP FOR DINNER. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

(5) The Hiker Hostel, if still open, in Hot Springs. Grungy, bunks everywhere, a few mattresses on the floor some places, full kitchen with some food everyone else left behind, right by the bunks so you can enjoy everyone else cooking and yammering while you're trying to sleep if you're on the lower level, one john (with shower), which is kinda cool if there are 50 people there and you're in the john and come out and they're all going totally freakazoid. You want hiker trash panache? Great place, great people, strange, if gone, a tragedy (owner sometimes staged FREE rafting trips down the river that equalled the expensive ones, just for hikers) Alcohol is not forbidden, and generally required, and always shared, sorta, kinda (ask first unless the owner is zonked out).

The Weasel

10-11-2002, 07:20
Hiker Hostel is gone (I think)

10-11-2002, 09:28
Please note that the Tellico Gap Hostel is usually only open Feb. 15-April 15, so should not be relied upon for section hikers or other Thru's arriving before or after those dates.

10-11-2002, 09:33
Heres a list of the Hostels I rate as my favorite. I based my opinions on Friendliness, Cleanliness, and How much fun I had. Some I have stayed there twice. 1. Shaws- Monson, Me. See my previous post. 2. Kincorra- Dennis Cove, Tn. Bob and Pat are like Family to all hikers. 3.Hikers Paradise- Gorham, N.H. If you are Northbound, when reaching the road to Gorham, walk down the road about .2 of a mile to a beautiful white house on the left. Knock on door, they will call the Hostel. Bruce will come in his pick um up truck and take you to the Hostel, Its a Motel with a bunk room above the restaurant. The Pancakes are great! Bruce and Owners are Hiker Friendly. 4.Presbyterian Church of the Mountain- Delaware Water Gap, Pa. Simple, but clean bunkroom in the basement. Shower, towels etc. Shelter at rear of Church, I think. Pastor Karen was sweet. 5.St. Thomas Episcopal Church- Vernon, N.J. Plush, even though you sleep on the floor. Great shower, with all the bells and whistles, large fridge, and help yourself. Pastor and wife shuttled me anywhere I wanted to go. 6.Uncle Johnnies- Erwin, Tn. Clean and alot of fun. Johnnie has always been nice to me. 7.Stratton Motel and Hostel- Stratton, Me. Easy hitch in and out.Nice and clean bunkrooms, large kitchen that hikers share with the owners.Owners enjoyed my Southern drawl.Next door, restaurant and beer. Two small grocery stores. I had fun.

Hammock Hanger
10-11-2002, 16:33
Blueberry Patch - Hiawassi, GA
Elmer's (not really a hostel), Hot Springs, NC
Tillie's Woods Hole - So of Pearisburg, VA
Holy Family Hospice - Pearisburg, VA :D
Church in Mt Vernon, NJ
Hiker's Welcome (Packrat is great!)
Shaw's Boarding House - Munson, ME

I didn't stay in the hostel at RB Springs, but did use the store and enjoyed the privacy of a cabin. I love this place and consider the owners my friends.

Guess that's eight, but whose counting. Hammock Hanger

10-13-2002, 12:33
Going north

1. Blueberry Patch, Hiawasee GA
2. Tellico Gap Hikers Hostel (expensive, but worth every cent just to hear the stories from the Waffle King, plus he donates all the $$$)
3. Kincora Hostel (a must-not miss place)
4. Church of the Mountain (Deleware Water Gap, they let you camp out back and use all facilites if the hostel is full)
5. St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Vernon, NJ (Cheap, clean, plenty of sleeping space and nice kitchen/shower laundry area, walking distance to town)

10-13-2002, 22:48
only stayed in 3. here they are in my order of preference.

woods hole - miss tillie's hospitality and breakfast is not to be missed. wonder if she'll open in 2003?

iron masters mansion

bear's den

10-14-2002, 07:44
Her granddaugher Nellie was there when we stayed there last June. In the event Tillie isn't able to be there, I'd expect Nellie to continue fine hospitality.

10-14-2002, 09:40
thanks, that's good to know.

10-14-2002, 17:50
Things are alittle slow around here today. And the forum has
definitely been rather slow. As moderator this may get me in trouble with a few, but I don't think Admin. will mind. We need alittle humor now and then. So here goes: Can't somebody list Rainbow Springs as
their 6, 7 ,8,9,10th whatever favorite place? :D

SGT Rock
10-14-2002, 21:19
I've only used two hostels on the At so far, so my top two are Rainbow Springs and Holy Family Hostel.

Smile Jensine :D

Former Admin
10-15-2002, 07:53
Out of the 10 hostels I stayed at Rainbow Springs was ranked as #10 :D LOL

Bill Bryson was right and knows what he is talking about when he mentions this place:D

In fact Bill Bryson is the leading authority on hiking the Appalachian Trail and I highly recommend his guide.:p LOL

10-15-2002, 08:08
Being serious for a moment, if you look at the hostels on the top 5 list, they all have one common characteristic: All of them are run by great people who are very hiker friendly and very visible to the hikers. Some of them, like Bob Peoples, are also maintainers and very dedicated to the AT.

To quote the music of Takoma Ted: "The people are the Trail."

10-15-2002, 11:06
In reading and re-reading this thread, I've noticed that virtually all those listed provide service for a short period of time geared only towards thru hikers. I think this is wonderful, if someone can work 2-3 months a year and make a decent livelihood. Unfortunately, we not only provide services to hikers, but families on camping trips,
youth groups, family reunions, etc. Our services are for the complete general public. We are open 8 months a year. We are not retired, and could not live on 3 months of income from hikers. We
do as much for the hikers as we possibly can. Provide clean facilities, basic resupply foods, some meds, insoles, funny stories, etc. I've been asked so many times to write a book. Guess I'll do that when I retire. While this next story is not hiker related, we must remember that a hiker is still a part of the general public. Yesterday I registered a site to a retired couple from Fla. in a rented Motorhome. They paid for 2 nights, said they loved the place and may want to stay longer. Last night it rained, was alittle chilly this a.m. 50* and drizzling. The lady came up and said they were freezing and were heading back to Fla. We chatted a few minutes. She was complaining about the motorhome, how slow it was, how bumpy the ride, etc. Then she asked for a refund. We have two signs ( Yes those dreadful signs) posted in the store. Sorry NO refunds on lodging or camping. So I explained to her that we have no control over the weather and I was sorry that she was cold. This is an example that they were not happy with their choice of renting a motorhome, they were not happy with the weather, but guess who she got pissed with?? Yep, me. So in a way this does relate to hikers.
ie: if they're not happy with their pack, boots, whatever, and the weather turns bad and they happen to be here. It's our fault.
Just something to think about folks.

10-15-2002, 16:35
Jensine, Your post has a valid point about being blamed everything beyond your control, such as the weather.

But, just to back up a minute here. While I don't know several of the hostel owners down south, I do know a few up north a little better. To my knowledge, not one of them makes a living on hikers exclusively. For example, I am aware that Shaw's and others in Maine rely on the snow mobile crowd in winter and hunters in the fall. Hikers is just one part of their business with the general public, as you said.

Jensine, another thing that perhaps I can say, and you can't: Hostel owner's don't get rich off hikers. Anyone who thinks that doesn't understand that people in a rural area frequently choose this lifestyle in part because of the quality of life, rather than pursuing the almighty dollar. (hope I said it right).

10-15-2002, 16:56
Thanks Peaks, you're right I don't know much about the hostels up North. I guess I was referring to some near here ie: Blueberry Patch.
Gary and Lennie are GREAT people and they don't have the hostel as a means of making a living. Gary is retired.
Thanks for making the statement about making a living off of hikers.
You're right I very well couldn't have said it. And you're right about living in a rural area vs. the big city. We've been there,
D.C. area is where we moved from. Now I don't even like to go to
Asheville, it's too big for me. Malls scare the #@*& out of me.

The Weasel
10-15-2002, 17:18
I agree with what Peaks says, as well as how it's said. I'll add a few more thoughts:

I think that the most loved hostels fall generally into two categories:

One category truly IS devoted, nearly entirely, to not merely hikers, but thruhikers, and that is those hostels run or owned by former thru hikers. Kincora is one example, as is the Blueberry Patch. That experience brings a rapport right from the get-go; the owner knows how a thru hiker feels as they walk through the door, including the good feelings and the sometimes crochety feelings. They've been there, seen it, done that. They understand because they are one of what we want to be. And, in many ways, they are role models: THEY have finished the trail, and we are "mere grubs" who are still learning the ways of the Old Ones, like them. I think that'll be the case all the way to the end.

Another category is the category of those who have a hostel from a sense of, "I want to do something for these people." That includes the churches and others who provide housing for the trail out of a sense of goodness. That warms people - or should - when they receive it, and reminds both the hostel and the hiker what it means to share this world. For instance, I'd include both The Place - a church hostel - and Elmer's in Hot Springs in this category (and before you tell me that Elmer's is "commercial", well, yes it is...but (OMMMMMMMMM) he does NOT charge thru hikers anything NEAR what he charges other guests.

It is harder for "commercial" hostels and campgrounds to be loved, and Jensine is right: They don't have the freedom to go walk the trail, and in order to survive, they have to take a variety of other customers, some of which can be anywhere from a distraction to some hikers (youth groups, for example - and I understand that, as a Scoutmaster) to serious mistakes (the rental by Laurel Creek Hostel to a Ku Klux group in 1999, for example, although they strenuously assert that they did NOT know it was KKK group when the reservation was made; the owners have garnered some more ill will in Damascus through some of their recent purchases and sales of property, too). Still, most commercial hostels and campgrounds value hikers greatly, and are a valuable resource to us on the trail. Nevertheless, some "commercial" places ARE in the "top 5", and they are there for good reasons; I, too, really liked Uncle Johnny as well as the wild and crazy owner of the (defunct? damn!) Hiker Hostel in Hot Springs.

The Weasel

Sleepy the Arab
10-29-2002, 18:07
Hmm...Top five hostels....I love a challenge! Here goes:

1. Kincorra, Dennis Cove Rd. Tenn. Hands down, one of the best moments of my trip.

2. Shaws Bording House, Monson ME. I had a private room one night and was in the hiker room the next. Good people, good food. A good stay all 'round.

3. Holy Family Hospice, Pearisburg, Va. A lovely little barn on a hill with matresses in the loft and plenty of tentsites; a shower, kitchen and profile map of the AT from like twenty years ago. Bill may seem a bit crusty at first but don't let that fool you. He's a great guy. I arrived in P-burg with an sinus infection and Bill's help went above and beyond what I would ever expect a person to do for a "transient" like me.

4. The Barn, Gorham, NH.

5. Woodshole, Pearisburg, VA. Sheesh, another barn. One of these days, I'll arrive at Woodshole in the daytime, rather than stumbling in after thirty minutes of darkness.

...and for any who care...

6. Chruch of the Mountain Hostel, DWG, PA.
7. Rainbow Springs CG
8. Andover Guest House, Andover ME.
9. St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Vernon, NJ
10. What? Nine isn't enough?

Top five hostels not ranked 'cause I haven't stayed there. Yet.

1. The Sunnybank Inn (aka Elmer's), Hot Springs NC
2. The Blueberry Patch, GA
3. Ms. Janet's, NC. (reason enough to be a thru-hiker again)
4. Hiker's Welcome Hostel, Glencliff, NH
5. The Cabin, Andover ME.

01-14-2003, 19:54
Originally posted by jensine
Things are alittle slow around here today. And the forum has
definitely been rather slow. As moderator this may get me in trouble with a few, but I don't think Admin. will mind. We need alittle humor now and then. So here goes: Can't somebody list Rainbow Springs as
their 6, 7 ,8,9,10th whatever favorite place? :D

I really liked your place Jensine. After a long day of hiking over Albert Mountain, I almost didn't come the extra mile to Rainbow Springs but the little signs along the way helped. When I got there, I was happy to find that my hiking buddies had a hot pizza waiting for my consumption! The bunk house was reasonably priced and comfortable, and the showers were nice and hot. Your store has all the things that a hiker needs for resupply, and the ice cream and pizza tasted great! On top of it all you guys drove us back to the trail head in the morning, what more do people want or need?

On the other hand, Ron from the Tellico Gap hostel was a pompous ass and I would never think about going there again. I didn’t stay the night and was never planning on it, but he sure did try to get me to stay. I just stopped by for a spaghetti dinner which I admit tasted good, but it was nothing special. The entire dinner he berated people on what gear they were or weren’t carrying. If you weren’t carrying a pepsi-can stove, you weren’t going to make it to Katahdin! He gave me **** about carrying quarters when I paid for my meal... it was 7.50, it seemed like he expected people to just leave the extra 50 cents. At one point during the meal, he was telling us that we should quit hiking once we got to Damascus because the rest of the trail was just the same thing, instead we should go hike the PCT. And about the money that he supposedly donated… He told us that he no longer supported the ATC, all the money would be going to the PCT. I got out of there as soon as I could, I just couldn’t take it!

Elmer’s in Hot Springs was excellent! If you stay there, eat his dinner even if you are a meat lover… extremely tasty! He has lots of books through out the house if you need something to do, but Hot Springs is such a fun town you probably won’t find the time.

Blueberry Patch was great too; if you want a place to stay in Hiawassee get here early it fills up quick. Very friendly people and the pancakes in the morning taste great.

01-14-2003, 22:00
Thank you Montana, apprecitate yur kind words.

01-17-2003, 14:03
I regret not staying at Kincora after all the high praise I have heard for it. But I did enjoy myself at Laurel Creek Cabins so it is not a total loss. Rusty's in VA would be considered in this top five but I only spent an afternoon there and didn't stay overnight.

#1. The Cabin (Andover, ME)- I spent a record three nights there and it is not unusual for people to stay longer. Honey and Bear made me feel like family, and along with others I'm sure, Bear tried to talk me into staying longer. The food is amazing and you always get enough. I cannot stress enough how this was the best place to stay on the trail for me.

#2. Rob's House (Dalton, MA)- aka The Bird Cage. He just began taking hikers in 2001 so he is pretty new. This is not a hostel or a hotel, this is his home. He enjoys the company of the hikers and is a down to earth guy. There is no charge for staying there, only that you clean up after yourself, replace anything that the hikers use (ie if the shampoo/sodas/detergent runs out, then pick up some more when you go to the grocery store). Can check email there. The kindness of this man is unbelievable and I truly hope that hikers in the future do not take advantage of him.

#3. Goose Creek Cabins (near Neels Gap, GA).- Most folks will never see this place because Walasi-Yi Center is right there on the trail. When I came down Blood Mountain in 2001 my jaw dropped as I saw that the Center had closed for the next two days for Inventory. So we went to Goose Creek instead. It is a scenic and quiet place run by a man named Keith. The cabin's run around $20 or so. They take you into town to resupply and another trip to eat at Riversides. Most hikers will never see this place since it is so early on in the trip.

#4. Hike Inn (Fontana Dam, NC)- Run by Jeff and Nancy Hoch this is an old motel they bought. The rooms are clean and have TV's, very adequete for hikers, but what makes this place is Jeff and Nancy themselves. They are very cool people and I plan to stay there again if I am ever around Smoky Mountain NP.

#5. Elmer's (Hot Springs, NC)- You will not find another hostel along the trail that looks this fancy inside. The sense of community there is great as well. The house is so big that even if it is crowded it is not that hard to find a porch or room to yourself. Past thru-hikers come out for the summer to work for Elmer. The vegetarian style meals were amazingly good considering I am the furthest thing from a vegetarian (see my "kill or not to kill" post).

Some other can't-miss places: Shaw's (monson, Me); White House Landing (100 mile wilderness, ME); Hiker Welcome (Glencliff, NH); Church Hostel (Vernon, NJ); Eckville Shelter (Eckville, PA); Bear's Den Hostel (Virginia, near Harper's Ferry); The Place (Damascus, VA).

01-17-2003, 18:51
Gee Whiz. I can't comment on Ganj's top 5. I didn't stay in any of them. (Did stay in a couple of the rest)

02-07-2003, 12:51
I am heading out this year at the end of March and was wondering if it is difficult in geting into places such as the Blueberry Patch, Yalasi-yi, and Elmer's that are located near the start of tha AT during the peak thru-hiker season in March and April. Also, on the trail does the word get around that the place's are filling up; I think most places don't take reservations and fill up the space on a first come, first servie, basis.


02-07-2003, 13:26
Many of these places are first come, first served. Elmers takes reservations however. Blueberry Patch does not. First 8 or so hikers are in.

Can't tell ya about Walasi-Yi. It wasn't opened as a hostel in 2000. Imagine its first come, first served. Its only about 30 miles south of Blueberry Patch however. Yeah, that seems far to a newbie... I took a shower. did some laundry and pigged out at Walasi-Yi. Then I walked on that afternoon. Lots of good camping spots in the Raven Cliffs Wilderness.

Tellico Gap
03-11-2003, 18:54
Tellico Gap Hostel is CLSOED.

I just found out that my brother was running a hostel out of my summer home when I wasn't there to know it. See the gory details on the forum about hostels in NC. But. be warned, you may be arrested for trespassing. My brother, Ron Vaughn, did all this behind my back and has been thrown out of my home.

I am so grateful that "MONTANA" saw my brother for who he is! I am rolling laughing. So he has gyped me out of a lot of money and all the trust in the world. You made me laugh. I know him well and he is exactly as you describe.

Everyone saw him as so generous and gracious. Easy to be gracious with someone elses' house and capital, etc.

I hope none of you ever get so conceited about hiking that you are this cruel to your freinds and family.

Stay at the real hostels, with real people!

10-19-2003, 20:24
You all have forgot one on the list of best hostels. My personal favorite, and that is Miss Jane't House in Erwin, TN. You are guarenteed, great food, a comforatabel home enviroment, and most of all a great, freindly, and motivational "MOM" take care of you, and keep you on the right path, mentally and literly.

10-19-2003, 21:21

I had a tough time coming up with 5...I guess thats a bad sign. The three I enjoyed the most were: Miss Janets, Glencliff Hikers Hostel and the church of the mountain in Delware Water Gap.

I liked the feel of Kincorras but alas didn't stay there because it was full.
The Caratunk B and B is worth noting because Paul is one of the nicest guys I met on my hike. Great breakfast and hospitality. Too bad his partner turned away so many hikers with his rude behavior.
I really regret not staying at the Cabin in Andover. I actually met Earl from the Cabin while I was waiting for Sandra from Andover Guest house to pick me up. We chatted and I had wished I stayed with them, he was such a nice guy! He even suggested my friend poptart stay at AGH because we hadn't seen each other in awhile even though she planned to stay with him.

Curtis at Standing Bear was extremely nice however I didn't stay.
I never stayed at Rusty's or 4 Pines. Elmers was OK.

10-19-2003, 23:13
I noticed several postings giving strong opinions about some trail accomodations that are probably no longer valid because of ownership changes. If you are going to make comments about trail services please mention *when* you were last there.

-- The Tellico Hostel is closed.
-- Rainbow Springs Campground has new owners within the last 18 months.
-- Laurel Fork Lodge has new managers and I think new owners.

I hiked past Tellico this spring. I stayed at Rainbow Springs and Laurel Fork in April/May of this year both were very hiker friendly and recommended.

10-20-2003, 12:23
Radars absolutely correct. Hostels do change hands and that can make or break a hostel.

All my experiences were from this ytear 03'.
I was probably one of the few to stay at Tellico Gap Hostel. It IS CLOSED, don't plan on stopping there.
I didn't stay over but did resupply at Rainbow Springs. The new owners were incredibly nice. I never did meet the old owners. Phil and Yvette are the new owners names. They were quizzing us on the AT trying to learn the ropes and what thru-hikers want/need. They do take maildrops there. Phil drove six of us back to the AT even tho we didn't stay-very nice guy.
I stayed at Laurel Creek since Kincorra was full. I didn't have any experience with the new owners first hand, since I stayed in a cabin with other hikers which was payed for by one of my trailfriends parents who came to visit. The place was fine though.
If anyone has questions about any establishments bring em on.